December Allotment 2016 – Jobs we will be getting on with.

December Allotment 2016
Chris looking smug with his carrots.

December Allotment 2016

December allotment diary 2016… and its going to be a quiet  month for growblogs. We are both normally very busy preparing  for the Christmas rush in work. Evenings start in the afternoons generally pitch black by 4pm now. So, apart from a few fleeting visits to harvest some of our hardier vegetables, and to replenish the bird feeders, the December Allotment 2016 Pages are going to be pretty bare. That is up until the end of the month at least.

This doesn’t  mean that we haven’t been planning tho, the end of December I will have a full week of work off, and intend to make the most of it up at the allotment. I started a low fence along the front of our plot a few months back. The reason it is so low is that the sun crosses along the front, and we wanted to allow for maximum sunlight. I dug holes and positioned the posts to the edge of our boundary and fixed with postcrete. I will be digging a trench an under pinning the chicken wire fence beneath the ground to deter any burrowing creatures.

december allotment
Next years seed house

The second job will be to securely fix the greenhouse, to the greenhouse base that I installed in the summer. With the weight of the PVC paneling that we used to glaze the greenhouse, currently holding the frame in position. I didnt fancy taking the risk that a possible high wind might cause some damage. So i will drill the bottom of the frame and use plugs, screws, and washers to securely fix the frame to the concrete slab base.

Should I Cover Raised Beds Or Leave to the Elements OverWinter ?

Ive been asked a few  times since the growing season has slowed to a freeze, are you better to cover your raised beds to deter sunlight and starve the weeds. Or are you better to leave the beds to the elements and let the frost penetrate the ground,  and kill off anything that is still growing. On our plot we have two identical size beds which were made at the same time, so we have decided to cover one with a thick black builders pvc, and the other we have left to the elements. Come February or March when we come to work the ground again, we shall show which we think worked  best. 

December Allotment 2016
Bird feed

 

Our Allotment Wishlist for Santa

Dear Santa Claus

Connor and Myself have been really good boys all year. We hope you and the missus and all your reindeer’s are keeping well. We would please like the following if not too much to ask. A 6x3m polytunnel with a window, loads of sunshine and it would be just dandy if you could do something about the mares tail please.

All the best 

The lads at growblogs

Green Manure – Its Benefits, and how to use it.

 

green manure
Sowing Green Manure

This is a quick blog to show the benefits of sowing Green manure at this time of year.

Its got cold, really cold and I have conceded and finally got my winter clothes box from the attic. Last weekend at the allotment, we were constantly taking off and putting on our jackets, every time the sun was going behind a cloud. But this week has seen the first frosts, and the temperature consistently hitting zero at night. The evenings are starting to go dark roughly 5.00PM, and the allotment is looking bare.

Only the hardiest of vegetables will survive at this time of year, in fact we are down to just our leeks we are saving for Christmas, a few cabbages (pointed sweethearts) which I will no doubt pull this weekend, both variety’s of kale we are growing, and a few pepper plants in the greenhouse.

With the beds all cleared and weeded, there are three options you can take for preparing your beds for winter.

1) The first is to simply just leave the beds and let the freezing winds and winter temperatures freeze and thaw the ground, and kill all the weeds naturally.

 

2) The second is to cover the bed with a suitable material, we use black PVC, (damp proof membrane, available at all hardware shops). This creates a barrier between the soil and the sky and suppresses any weeds by starving them of the sunlight that then need to photosynthesise.

Green manure
Covered Bed

3) The third option is green manure. Green manure is a term used for any plant that is grown, normally over winter or at the end of the growing season, which is returned to the ground as a rich fertilizer. Green manures are generally fast growing plants that provide good ground coverage that suppresses light to other weeds. They also have good deep penetrating root systems, which are ideal for aerating the soil and breaking up tough ground. Certain variety’s are also high in and important sources of nitrogen for your soil.

  green manure

There are many different types of green manures available for differing soil types. Some are better for ground coverage e.g. Field Beans or Mustard Seed, while other green manures are nutrient-rich and great for improving soils e.g. Tares or Alfalfa, while a third group of manures are particularly good at attracting beneficial insects to your plot, e.g. Red or White Clover.

As we try to extend our growing season as long as possible, we are only freeing up most of our beds now, when the weather is very much wintry. This means that attracting insects is not of importance but ground coverage, and enriching our soil for the next growing season is important. The best choice for us to use at this time of year are field beans, which provide excellent coverage and will add much-needed nitrogen to the ground in Spring when they are returned to the soil and fertilized.

We sowed our field beans roughly 2.5 inches apart at row 20 cm apart, and roughly 1 inch deep. After sowing, the seeds are well watered in, though it was necessary for us as the sky was turning black, and heavy rainfall was predicted. This is our first time growing field beans but we have been told of their rapid growth even in these poor growing conditions.

green manure

What are you all getting up to at your allotments this month, why not let us know by sending us a comment below?